• Ansari denounces ‘conspiracy theories’
• TTP hand seen behind blast, involvement of hostile agencies also suspected
PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari on Thursday vowed to avenge the death of more than a hundred people in the Police Lines bombing, saying that law enforcement agencies were closing in on the militant network behind the attack.
Speaking at a press briefing here to share developments from the probe into the suicide bombing that ripped through a mosque located within the police compound on Monday, he said that the bomber — clad in police uniform — had been identified.
At least 101 people, including one woman, perished in the powerful explosion, which caused the roof of the mosque to collapse, leaving 221 people wounded.
With pain and anger visible on his face, the KP police chief said the bomber had entered the gate of Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines at 12:37pm on a motorbike but had not been body-searched since he wore a police uniform, a protective jacket, a mask and a helmet, adding that cops deployed at the security check “thought he was one of them”.
He said that the severed head of the suicide bomber recovered from the site matched the person identified in the CCTV footage.
During his interaction with journalists, IG Ansari said that although the bomber had managed to enter the police compound, he was not familiar with the premises and had to ask an elderly officer about the location of the mosque.
He said that most of his men died after the roof collapsed on top of them due to the impact of explosion. “Trinitrotoluene (TNT) explosives were used in the attack,” he said, adding that the walls of the mosque — which was built some 50 years ago — could not withstand the shockwave.
There was no pillar in the 2,500sq ft mosque, he said, and no passage to release the shockwave, causing the walls to fall.
He also expressed pain over the conspiracy theories were being spread by some elements, inciting police personnel to protest. These theories suggested that the bombing wasn’t a suicide attack but a drone strike or the result of an improvised explosive device planted at the site.
‘There is no evidence of a rocket hitting the roof from above, nor is there a crater [caused by IEDs] inside the mosque,’ he said.
He said the investigation team had recovered pellets and ball-bearings from the site as well as the remains of the suicide jacket, which were all consistent with the hallmarks of a suicide attack.
“We are all in pain and our agony and distress should not be augmented [through speculation].”
He said that some elements had resorted to political point scoring by inciting policemen to protest, but the force, including himself and other police officers, had taken a fresh oath [on Thursday] to continue fighting militancy till “our last breath”.
IG Ansari said that technical evidence and intelligence reports suggested that the bombing was carried out by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its Jamaatul Ahraar faction.
“[The banned] TTP accepted responsibility for the attack, but later withdrew their claim following consultations within the group that attacking a mosque would be criticised,” he said, adding that hostile agencies working against national security were involved in the attack.
The IG also revealed that some people were arrested during the course of the investigation and the identification process was under way. Those who do not match leads found during the sweep of the scene of the crime would be released, but those who matched would the probed further.
He said that the DNA samples of the dead, including a woman, were collected and were being cross-matched. “The number of martyrs was being reviewed as the number was around 82 and a final [number] would be shared soon.”
Referring to the KP police personnel as “my children”, Ansari said his force could identity and find the killer and protect themselves, the nation and the country.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2023
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